Combining education, citizen science and dune restoration programs as a model for effective coastal community engagement

Ms Maggie Muurmans1

1Griffith Centre For Coastal Management, Southport, Australia


The principles of community engagement follow the process from informing the community to their empowerment to make decisions and implement change. In order to fully implement this process, the coastal community engagement program (CCEP) at the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management has successfully integrated the information, consultation, involvement, collaboration and empowerment activities into one program.  CoastEd, BeachCare and DuneWatch, programs as part of CCEP, have created an integrated approach to include the Gold Coast community in the management of the sandy dunes.

The collaboration between education, dune restoration and citizen science has lead to a local community embracing rather than opposing management strategies to reduce coastal erosion. Providing structured education sessions alongside planting and research activities have ensured that participants understand the importance of the health of dunes.  On average over one thousand participants have volunteered with CCEP in 2016 and a total of 5388 participants were part of the dune restoration program since 2005.

The model creates  hands-on activities where communities learn about the importance of dunes (information), share their ideas and thoughts about their protection (consultation), assist in planting native dune species and remove invasive ones (involvement) whilst also collect imperative data on the health of the dunes through surveys which is publicly shared at national citizen science platforms (collaboration).  This activity results in the participants feeling empowered to have made a positive contribution to their environment, instilled local stewardship and created an understanding for the management strategies to protect the coastline from storm surge and erosion events.


Maggie Muurmans has been working in the community engagement space over the past 18 years in 7 different countries and 4 continents. She is passionate about creating local stewardships for the environment and building capacity within communities.

Maggie currently coordinates the coastal community engagement program as part of the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management on the Gold Coast.